On social justice: Comparing Paul with Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics
AbstractIn “In search of Paul” (2004) Crossan and Reed argue that Paul’s vision and program were essentially in continuity with Jesus’: both opposed, be it in Galilean villages or Roman cities, an unjust imperial system by means of an alternative project of egalitarian, distributive justice. Although Crossan elsewhere demonstrates the deep roots of this concern in the Jewish tradition, he tends to downplay the importance of Greek contributions in this regard. The purpose of this essay will be to offer, in constant dialogue with Crossan (and Reed), a more refined comparison of social justice in Paul on the one hand and Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics on the other. If Paul tried to establish egalitarian and sharing Christian communities under the Roman empire, how do this vision and program compare and contrast with Plato's hierarchical but communal concept of justice, Aristotle’s distributive notion according to merit, and most importantly the Stoics’ argument of “oikeiosis” (i.e., other-concern by concentrical familiarization with the other)?